Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Prayer. Silence. Shhh.
What a stunning viewpoint on silence. Or, should I say, Silence?
Somehow, I feel as if this word ought to be capitalized. Father Nouwen makes such telling points on silence and the modern understanding of it. This little book was written in 1972, which is well over forty years ago. Fr. Nouwen talks about the clatter, banging, and constant noise of this modern time. Boy, can I relate.
I wonder what the good Father would have to say about 2018, the modern day in the western world? With all the technological updates and social media and the myriad of different choices in the way of accessing sound and video and recording of all different kinds… Would this audio-visual kaleidoscope of noise, this cacophony of countless visual and audible selections, cause him to shun technology even more?
I remember I did not like being alone or in silence very long, when I was a teen. It got better in my twenties and thirties. Now, I enjoy it.
Oh, Father Nouwen, you seem to run toward silence with abandon. Nonetheless, you freely admit that “for many, silence is threatening. They don’t know what to do with it.”  Is silence truly a disappearing art? Is silence a fearful and terrifying thing, finally in its fearsome stages of existence?
The question forty years ago Fr. Nouwen wanted answered was, have people become alienated from silence? I consider it just as fair to ask what have the majority of people become addicted to? Beyond random noise, to videos, blogs, vlogs, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, much less regular texting and instant messaging?
Dear God, save us from ourselves. Help me—help us to see that You thrive in the various sounds of silence just as much as in loud howls and yells, conversations, noisy trumpets, cymbals, honky-tonk pianos, drum sets, wailing guitars, and all the variety of electronic sounds and other forms of audio and visual input. Gracious God, thank You that You have given humanity the insight, ability, and ingenuity to come up with all of the constant sounds. Help us to quiet our insides just as much as the outside environment can be quietened. Thank You for this profound insight Fr. Nouwen brings to me today.
Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.
 With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 16.